|Secretary for Constitutional Affairs speaks after passage of CE election and LegCo election amendment bill (English only)
Following is a transcript of the standup briefing by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, after the Chief Executive Election and Legislative Council Election (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2006 was passed by the Legislative Council today (May 10) (English only):
Reporter: As a result of the passage of this bill today, will the election of the Chief Executive (CE) next year be any more democratic?
SCA: I think in the light of the passage of today's amendment bill, we can expect growth in interest in the election of the Election Committee (EC) and also the election of the CE itself. I think in both sets of elections, there will be a great deal of political interest among political parties in Hong Kong and individuals who are interested in playing a part in the EC. Also we have made new provisions to require a solely nominated candidate to go through a process of election even in that particular circumstance. We believe that the 800 EC members should be given the opportunity to signify whether a solely nominated candidate get their support or not.
Reporter: Is this because in part the government simply does not want to see another case in which the CE is elected or selected without a vote even taken place?
SCA: We believe that we should allow both the nomination process and the election process to complete their cycles. This will enable Hong Kong community to see clearly the extent to which a solely nominated candidate attracts nomination, support among different sectors in the EC and also support among those who are willing to vote for him or against him.
Reporter: During the course of your speech, you refer to an issue, a translation as to a ploy by the opposition camp, the democracy camp. What was the ploy you are referring to?
SCA: I think the opposition camp has two important ideas which they should mull over. Firstly, last year, when they voted against the Fifth Report of the Constitutional Development Task Force, they let go an opportunity to expand democracy in Hong Kong. We were quite willing to expand the size of the EC from 800 members to 1,600 members and also to increase the number of LegCo members from 60 to 70. This would have been achieved through the involvement of over 500 District Councillors. This would have enhanced the representativeness and legitimacy of the two elections. It would also have enabled new comers to political life to take part in, for example, elections to LegCo. But the opposition camp let go this opportunity in the hope that they would achieve overnight the endorsement and achievement of a universal suffrage timetable. But in the case of Hong Kong's democratic developments, it is very necessary for us to proceed step by step. It would have been entirely possible for the opposition camp to support the Fifth Report and also to strive for universal suffrage attainment thereafter.
Reporter: Lawmakers said today that you miss the opportunity in this bill that you could have taken to expand the opportunity for democracy and election of the Chief Executive.
SCA: I think the judgment of Hong Kong community is very clear. Firstly, during the final quarter of 2005, a majority of Hong Kong people supported the 2007/08 package. This was revealed by a host of surveys conducted by universities at different times. And what was more, last week, the Baptist University released a new poll. Actually the support of Hong Kong people for the 07/08 package has been sustained and has increased. It is very necessary for the opposition camp to pay heed to this phenomenon and recognise that they made a misjudgment last year.
Reporter: If the 07/08 project that you proposed reforms has so much support now, in fact, increasing support, should we expect to see those same proposals come around when its time to talk about 2012?
SCA: I think after the election of the third term CE, between 2007 and 2012, Hong Kong community will have another opportunity to consider the directions for future constitutional reforms. I very much hope that all political parties and members of the LegCo, when that opportunity comes, will sensibly and methodically generate consensus within the LegCo and among Hong Kong community so that we can make progress for Hong Kong.
Reporter: ...will it be likely to see the same proposals to come forth?
SCA: I think it is too early to say what proposals will be considered in the five years ahead. I think for now, in the next year or so, we will all focus on the EC and the CE election.
Ends/Wednesday, May 10, 2006